Who Is Covered by Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Any bodily injury, illness, or worsening of pre-existing conditions caused by accidents at work are covered by workers’ compensation insurance in the state of Massachusetts. Both documented and undocumented workers are eligible, as well as volunteers and people who work for no pay. Nearly all employees must be covered by workers' compensation coverage regardless of the number of hours worked or the number of employees a company has. The only exception to this rule is that domestic employees must work 16 hours per week to be covered. Visit mass.gov for more information about workers' compensation insurance requirements and eligible employees.
Injuries must extend past five calendar days in order to qualify for workers’ compensation, but the days do not have to be consecutive. Additionally, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, meaning you do not need to prove that anyone was negligent. Even if you were at fault, you still get workers’ compensation benefits.
Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Benefits
If you are injured on the job, your workers’ compensation benefits will include a percentage of your lost wages, which varies based on the injury and is capped at a maximum amount set by the state every year.
Depending on the severity of your injury, you may be eligible for:
- Permanent and total disability: If you become totally and permanently disabled and cannot return to work, you may receive 2/3 of your average weekly wages that you earned before the accident (Massachusetts Law Chapter 152, Section 34).
- Temporary total disability: If you are unable to work for more than five days due to your workplace injury, you may be eligible to receive 60% of your weekly wages for up to three years.
- Partial disability: If you become partially disabled as a result of your injury, meaning that you can return to work but cannot perform at your previous earning capacity, you may receive 60% of your average weekly wages before the injury for up to five years (Massachusetts Law Chapter 152, Section 35).
Other available workers’ compensation benefits cover:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of function
- Death/Survival benefits
- Out-of-pocket expenses (crutches, wheelchairs, etc.)
- Property damage
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Physical therapy
Massachusetts Law Chapter 152, Section 28 states that workers’ compensation benefits will be doubled if the injury is caused by the employers’ “serious and willful misconduct.” This means that if an employer maintains a workplace that is dangerous and violates health and safety codes, you may be eligible for double workers’ compensation benefits.
Massachusetts Law Chapter 152, Section 31 states that a surviving spouse may receive death benefits from the deceased’s employer as long as she remains living, unmarried, and not fully self-supporting.
Who Is Exempt from Workers' Comp in Massachusetts?
Members of an LLC, partners of an LLP, and sole proprietors of unincorporated businesses are not required by law to carry workers' compensation coverage for themselves, though they may still choose to add this coverage into their policies. Corporate officers who own at least 25% interest in the corporation may also file for an exemption from workers' compensation coverage.
What Happens if An Employer Doesn't Have Workers' Comp Coverage?
If an employer does not have adequate workers' compensation coverage, the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) Office of Investigations may issue a stop work order (SWO) requiring them to cease all business activities until proof of coverage is provided.
Minimum fines for a SWO are $100 per day, including weekends and holidays, beginning on the date the SWO was issued. These fines accrue daily until coverage starts and the fine is paid. Employers issued SWOs may also be subject to criminal prosecution and debarment from public contracts for a period of three years.